After completing a major renovation of their El Reloj cigar factory only last year, J.C. Newman Cigar Co. already has their next project in the works, purchasing a neighboring property across the street with the intent to open a new hotel, restaurant, and cigar lounge in the building in late 2023.

The building was once the Sanchez y Haya hotel, constructed by Serafin Sanchez and Ignacio Haya in 1910. The hotel was first built to accommodate cigar factory workers and other visitors to El Reloj. It became the home of a bootlegging operation during Prohibition, and was later known as The Chip-In Bar throughout the 1990s, being a notorious site for shootings, stabbings “and other criminal activity.” In recent years, the building has dilapidated, becoming home to a colony of thousands of bats.

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Despite such conditions, J.C. Newman is determined to renovate the property to its former glory, relocating the bat colony to a park across the street from El Reloj.

Before work on restoring the Sanchez y Haya hotel can begin, J.C. Newman must first relocate a colony of as many as 10,000 bats that have inhabited the abandoned hotel for decades. With the assistance of a nonprofit bat rescue, J.C. Newman is building new, custom bat houses for the bat colony in a new park across the street from El Reloj.

“We want our bat colony to grow and thrive,” said [Drew] Newman. “Our bats will become a tourist attraction of their own and will, perhaps, inspire a special, new cigar in the future.”

J.C. Newman purchased the building in August 2020 for an estimated $650,000, and will begin the process of relocating the bats before April, which is the bats’ maternity season. Following this process, work will begin to restore the building, with the hopes to offer a hotel, restaurant, and cigar lounge in the building in late 2023. This will be an accompaniment to the newly renovated El Reloj factory, where the Newmans offer cigar enthusiasts tours through their factory, including a three-level cigar museum, theater, event space, cigar-rolling gallery, souvenir shop, and more.

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